High School Biology Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

Project 2061 Analysis Procedure

What the Content Analysis Looked For

For each high school biology textbook evaluated, the reviewers determined how completely the textbook’s content aligns with key ideas in four topics: Cell Structure and Function, Matter and Energy Transformations, Molecular Basis of Heredity, and Natural Selection and Evolution. Each Content Analysis report found under Browse the Evaluation Reports describes in detail the reviewers’ findings.

For the Matter and Energy Transformations topic, a Content Analysis report for each textbook presents the findings in six report sections:

The Map: What the Reviewers Found displays the Content Analysis findings in graphical form, showing the curriculum material's treatment of the key ideas in a given topic in terms of content alignment and coherence.

The Alignment section examines how completely the curriculum material's content aligns with the specific key ideas that have been selected for use in the analysis.

In Building a Case, the report examines whether the curriculum material develops an evidence-based argument in support of the key ideas, including whether the case presented is valid, comprehensible, and convincing.

The Connections section examines the extent to which the curriculum material makes clear the relationships (1) among the key ideas, (2) between the key ideas and their prerequisites, and (3) between the key ideas and other, related ideas.

In Beyond Literacy, the report notes any information presented in the curriculum material that is more advanced than the set of key ideas, looking particularly at whether the “beyond literacy” information interrupts the presentation of the grade-appropriate information.

The Accuracy section notes information presented in the curriculum material and related to the key ideas that contains errors, misleading statements, or statements that may reinforce commonly held student misconceptions. (Please note that not all Content Analysis reports include an Accuracy section.)

For each of the other three topics, one Summary Content Analysis report summarizes the content analysis findings for that topic across all nine high school biology textbooks evaluated. Each Summary Content Analysis is organized in the following manner:

Topic Maps show What the Reviewers Looked For and a Composite of What the Reviewers Found across all nine textbooks.

Treatment of Key Ideas describes the treatment of each key idea in three sections:

Building a Case describes how well textbooks present an evidence-based case for the key ideas.

Connections describes three types of relationships, which are illustrated on the Topic Maps for each topic: